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Print Edition> Nation
UPDATED: October 25, 2010 NO. 43 OCTOBER 28, 2010
Lands in Storms
Heavy rains hit Hainan, bringing large losses and exposing a fragile side of the island province

FLOODING STREETS: Motorcyclists make their way through a flooded street in Qionghai, south China's Hainan Province, on October 17 (MENG ZHONGDE)

A new round of torrential rains battered China's southernmost island province of Hainan around October 22.

The 34,000-square-km island, the second largest of its kind in China, is situated at the same latitude as Hawaii and well known as a fascinating tropical locale.

In early October, Hainan was ravaged by heavy rains, forcing more than 440,000 residents to be evacuated. Another round of rainstorms pounded Hainan on October 14-18, raising water levels in the province's 500 reservoirs and major rivers to dangerous points.

Yang Yunxian, head of the provincial disaster relief authority, said devastating floods were reported throughout the province, also the largest special economic zone in China.

At the end of 2009, the island's plan to build it into an international tourist destination was approved by the Central Government.

Record rainfalls

The first round of rains started September 30 and ended on October 9, forcing the evacuation of about 447,000 people from flooded homes, said local authorities.

According to official records, the downpour is the worst in October since 1961, with its duration, as well as daily and total precipitations, breaking all records.

Rains affected a total of 2.5 million people, with almost 10,000 hectares of crops damaged or destroyed by floods, according to the Civil Affairs Department of Hainan.

The downpour also flooded hundreds of villages, inundated farmland, disrupted ferry service and threatened to burst reservoirs.

Direct economic losses were estimated to be 1.13 billion yuan ($165.45 million), the department added.

The relentless rain also resulted in 21 percent more water for the province's reservoirs, with water levels at four rising above the warning line.

During the second round of rainfall, almost 2.08 million people were affected and 139,300 were forced to evacuate low-lying areas.

Strong rain inundated more than 200 villages in the cities of Haikou, Wenchang and Qionghai and forced 84 primary and middle schools in the provincial capital, Haikou, to suspend classes, said Sun Wei, Deputy Director of disaster relief and public services department with the provincial meteorological bureau.

Many local rivers are running with water levels higher than their warning marks and more than 70 percent of 1,100 reservoirs have safety concerns, according to the provincial flood control and drought relief office.

Direct economic losses were estimated at about 1.52 billion yuan ($222.55 million), the Ministry of Civil Affairs said on October 18.

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